Herts Ad Comment: Service cuts just keep on coming

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When did it all go so wrong? Without doubt, there is something rotten in the state of Hertfordshire, as key services are reduced or scrapped, and our most vulnerable residents are left struggling.

Regardless of all the petitions and protests, Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) has withdrawn its funding from Nascot Lawn respite centre.

It is not without justification that Nascot Lawn parents have described it as one of the “worst examples of public decision making” they have ever seen.

The lack of accountability in groups like the CCG is shocking, and ultimately has proved damning for the people it is supposed to support.

The decision-makers within this organisation do not have to listen to the strength of local opinion, they can ignore public protests and shut their ears to objections of all kinds.

On these very letters pages a few weeks ago, the CCG’s chair Dr Nicholas Small tried to explain away the shoddy financial management which has blighted the group over recent years, but refused to apologise for what he described as the “difficult decisions” which proved necessary to balance the books.

As we reported last month, an independent audit found “significant weakenesses” in the financial governance of the organisation, yet the people who are suffering as a result of this mismanagement are not the well-paid executives running the CCG, but would-be parents hoping for IVF treatment, the families whose children use Nascot Lawn, and other vulnerable people within our communities.

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Dr Small should hang his head in shame for presiding over not only the financial crisis of recent years, but the shocking round of service cuts it has prompted.

Ironically, Dr Small’s biography on the CCG’s website claims: “I am also especially interested in support for carers and making sure that patients and the public are fully engaged in our work.”

Had the situation not been so dire, then it is possible some of these services might have been saved when NHS England slashed the CCG’s budget earlier this year, but when you’re looking at a projected deficit of £18m for 2016-2017 then the options are limited.

But that doesn’t help the parents for whom Nascot Lawn has proved a lifeline, and they are the ones who are really suffering, not the faceless bureaucrats officiating over the running of Herts Valleys CCG.